U.S. POW's in Germany:
I drove my daughter out to New Mexico to Girl Scout camp. She went to ride horses for ten days and I stayed to do volunteer work at the camp. When I am on long drives I enjoy listening to books on tape. So as I am driving west out of Jackson County, Oklahoma I listened to Soldiers and Slaves by Roger Cohen.
It's about American service men who were Jewish, fighting in WW II and taken prisoner by the Germans. Most people have some knowledge of the systematic murder of European Jews by the Nazis. One of the ways of killing Jews was to take men and some women and work/starve them to death.
In 1944/45 approximately 400 American soldiers who were Jewish were sent to a town in what became East Germany. They were put to work digging tunnels into the side of a hill in order to build underground manufacturing plants. These plants were to be used to produce some of Hitler's alleged secret weapons that were going to win the war for Germany. With the large loss of German manpower, the Master Race turned to slave labor to do the dangerous blasting and digging that went on around the clock.
This cruel effort was taken to get the underground bunkers finished in order to meet Hitler's timetable for victory. The German Army separated the Jewish-American soldiers against the Geneva Convention and made slaves of these captured combat veterans. Within six weeks they had already worked some of the soldiers to death. The German mindset of total hate for Jews was also extended to the American GIs.
Notice I said German mindset, not Nazi mindset. Yes Hitler and the Nazis came up with the idea of the "Final Solution" but it took the efforts of an entire country to make the millions of killings happen.
As I was driving around the beautiful mountains of New Mexico listening to the book on CD, I found myself getting very angry. I would have to turn off the CD every once in a while just so I could stop thinking about what this evil nation had done to these American soldiers.
My wife is German on both sides of her family, with most of them coming to the US in the 1860s. I am German on my mother's side with my family arriving prior to and fighting in the Revolutionary War. We are always talking to our daughter about the positive things in our lives because of our German heritage. The largest minority in the U.S. is German.
In the late 1700s an attempt to establish German as the official language of the U.S. was defeated by only one vote. Makes you wonder what our history would be like if America had become a German speaking nation.
The major point is my family's German heritage is pre-1880s. With many of them leaving the "old country" because of the ongoing politics of that people. A political ideology that would, years later, culminate in the Nazi party.
After years of telling our daughter about her "good" German genes, she read The Diary of Ann Frank. She then came to us very unhappy and stated she was not sure she wanted to be German.
The more I listened to the CD the more I realized just how much we (the West) let the Germans get away with after WW II. The East Germans were subjected too much harsher treatment by the Soviets after the war. Of the hundreds-of-thousands of German POWs who fell into the hands of the Russians, only about 5000 returned home alive. That is how the Russians dealt with the Master Race.
We in the "West" just did not get it. To this day the older Germans feel no responsibility for their actions and the new generations of young Germans have no guilt (no sins of the father problem there).
In their modern military German recruits are taught how to recognize an evil, unlawful order. Something the average teenage American understands long before they join the military. I am a boring old Methodist, but this killing of American soldiers just because they were Jewish is bothering me greatly. Politics killed them and politics spared their evil executioners.
Copyright 2005 by Major Van Harl USAF Ret. All rights reserved.